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BEIJING - To become a lawyer on the mainland, one must now swear an oath of support to the leadership of the Communist Party.

The oath reads: 'I wish to become a lawyer of the People's Republic of China, and I guarantee to fulfil the sacred mission of a law worker of socialism with Chinese characteristics, be loyal to the country, be loyal to the people, support the leadership of the Communist Party, support the socialist system, protect the constitution and the authority of the law.'

The move is not without critics. Veteran criminal lawyer Zhang Sizhi said: 'As a lawyer, shouldn't one's first loyalty be towards the law, rather than a particular organisation?'